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Supreme Court Hearing Case On Drug-Sniffing Dog "Fishing Expeditions" 451

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the smells-like-hippies dept.
sgunhouse writes "Wired is running an article on a Supreme Court challenge (well, actually two of them) to the use of drug-sniffing dogs. The first case discussed involved Florida police using a drug-sniffing dog as a basis for searching a suspected drug dealer's home. The court in Florida excluded the evidence obtained from the search, saying a warrant should be required for that sort of use of a dog. Personally, I agree — police have no right to parade a dog around on private property on a 'fishing expedition', same as they need a warrant to use a thermal imaging device to search for grow houses. I have no use for recreational drugs, but they had better have a warrant if they want to bring a dog onto my property."
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Supreme Court Hearing Case On Drug-Sniffing Dog "Fishing Expeditions"

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  • by equex (747231) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @05:09AM (#41828011) Homepage
    we have no use for fishing expedtions and it is a massive privacy invasion. police should be reactive and deal with imminent threats, not go fishing for pot smokers. god damn police state.
    • by Krneki (1192201) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @05:15AM (#41828031)
      This is another problem, just legalize it and stop wasting taxpayer money on chasing ghosts while at the same time cut the income of organized crime.

      The organized crime will do far more damage then any pot smoker anyway.

      • by Type44Q (1233630)

        The organized crime will do far more damage

        Damage to who? Certainly not to those benefiting from this state of affairs...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by VortexCortex (1117377)

        The organized crime will do far more damage then any pot smoker anyway.

        If the criminals are organized enough we call it a Government. Considering the average Politician's behavior, your statement is still correct.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by silentcoder (1241496)

          >If the criminals are organized enough we call it a Government.
          Or a corporation.

          Frankly these days the differences are getting too small to matter.

    • Dogs don't like fishing. That's cats.
  • by joostje (126457) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @05:24AM (#41828055)

    same as they need a warrant to use a thermal imaging device to search for grow houses

    Really? I see you are right [wikipedia.org], but that does sound strange to me, living in the Netherlands. Here it's a standard way for the police to track down the growers (even though selling small quantities is half-legal here).

    • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @06:50AM (#41828381) Journal

      It's a difficult problem in the US. Although marijuana is illegal here it is by far the number one cash crop [drugscience.org] in the US - ahead of wheat, barley, corn, soybeans and everything else. It is also one of our largest imports and a significant portion of our balance of international trade. Somehow we have not learned the lessons of prohibition. [wikipedia.org]

      I don't care for the product myself but man, this is crazy.

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      The fact that you say it's the standard way for the police to track indoor gardeners, is exactly what I think makes it a problem in USA. If a detection tech is solely a "cop thing" then whatever it detects isn't what any layman would consider public information, so government using that detection tech against its people without a warrant, is against the law. It's "unreasonable search."

      If lots of people walked around with IR goggles on all the time, so that it was common knowledge (not just among cops) whi

  • by magic maverick (2615475) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @05:26AM (#41828069) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, and cops come onto your property with a dog, and don't have a warrant, what are you going to do? If you shoot them, they'll shoot you. If you sue them, you'll lose. If you put up with it it, well, that's what you'll have to do.

    It's rigged against you. Everything is. In Britain (at least England & Wales) a cop has never been found guilty of illegally killing someone during the course of their job. So, if you want a license to kill, just join an English police force. But in most other places (including the USA and Australia), cops also literally get away with murder.

    And you think that a little bit of searching without a warrant is going to bother them? Even if the case against a suspect is thrown out because the evidence was collected illegally, the filth involved will not have any sanctions against them. Think about that. They can bust down your door, shoot your dog, and plant drugs, with no repercussions.

    And no use for recreational drugs? So no alcohol? You don't smoke a ciggie every now and again? Or a pipe or a cigar? (Personally I don't use illegal drugs, but that's only 'cause I'm too lazy to seek them out. If they were on sale down at the local bottlo along with the whisky, brandy and fine liqueurs I'd buy some.)

    • Also, the summary is a bit over the top. This isn't about dogs being used on private property without a warrant; this is about a dog being outside, on public property, indicating that it can smell drugs inside, and then a warrant being obtained based on that "evidence". Which the article is (rightly in my humble opinion) linking to using thermal-imaging devices form outside a house without a warrant. What if fancy particle detectors could be used in the same way? So, no dog, just more technology? Can the po

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        Personally I'm always in favor of less power for the police, and more power for the people. (I'm also strongly in favor of capital punishment for politicians.)

        You forgot the lawyers. With patent/copyright ones as a special case.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        So they question is does an alert from a dog constitute evidence strong enough to meet the probal cause standard? What if I come up with a method to detect drugs or anything else that is utter bullshit? I have this rock that when released will fall towards the earth if there is pot near by, well look drop like a stone. I had better search every house on the block and pay down all the attractive women just to be safe.

        Personally I am not optimistic, this court has not adopted rigors eviduciary requirements

        • by jeti (105266)

          Obviously, you don't use a rock, you use a wand [bbc.co.uk]. It works - even if it doesn't work - by giving you a justification to search any car you want.

      • by ralatalo (673742)

        The key component is "plain view', thermal enhanced imaging is not plain view, and trained dogs are not plain smell. If the officer can smell your pot without a dog, you will still have issues.

      • >I'm also strongly in favor of capital punishment for politicians.

        You mean entering politics should be a capital crime ? I could get behind that idea...

      • by BeanThere (28381)

        A search is a search. A dog's nose is just a searching device. If precedent is established for dogs already, it's pretty much automatically establish for laser-spectrometry based violations of the 4th amendment (and believe me, that's coming, in addition to drone-surveillance-based violations (already here) and AI-driven activity recognition based violations). And precedence for dogs (and drones) are already established, so we're pretty much f0cked, to be honest, as long as immoral sociopaths are running ou

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Police in mainland Britain do not carry firearms by default. The police do have access to lethal weaponry, but it's only carried in airports or in response to reports of armed crime.

      Wikipedia has a list of people killed by police in the UK. If you discount the ones that happened in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, it has a grand total of 15 people killed by police since 1920.

      I do not feel scared by that number.

      • by tomtomtom (580791) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @09:14AM (#41829273)

        Wikipedia has a list of people killed by police in the UK. If you discount the ones that happened in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, it has a grand total of 15 people killed by police since 1920.

        I do not feel scared by that number.

        I'm not sure which numbers you were looking at, but I think they are rather a lot higher than that, even if not officially acknowledged as such. Possibly you have confused "being shot by the police" with "being killed by the police" (although even then the number is far, far higher than that).

        Between 2000 and 2011 there were nearly 6,000 deaths in police custody [independent.gov.uk] in the UK. Now, some (perhaps even many or most) of those will be unavoidable - perhaps people who would have died anyway even if not in police custody. Then, some are down to negligence (although I'd argue that in many case that is just as bad as malfeasance - if I was at home and vulnerable to some medical condition e.g. diabetes then it's much more likely someone would be around who would watch and look after me properly). But I find it very difficult to believe that given such a large number of cases there is no significant element of either bad intent or intentinoal recklessness, because it really is a shockingly high number - for context, it is not terribly far off the total number of murders recorded in the UK in the same period.

        Looking just at shootings - there seem to be on average about 6 or 7 a year in recent years - e.g. here is a list [dailymail.co.uk] of some of them. There are in fact multiple recent cases where the police have literally shot naked and unarmed people (and faced only relatively minor consequences as a result) and several more where they have shot unarmed people. Even in this case [wikipedia.org], which would appear to be about as clear-cut a case as they come, the officers were acquitted and retained their jobs in the police, albeit not on firearm duties.

        Finally, I'd like to say that the fact that police can apparently get away with murder should worry you, for two reasons. Firstly - not because you might be murdered by the police yourself (that is still very unlikely), but because it means they might be likely to get away with far lesser crimes (like assaulting you, planting drugs on you, or making up a traffic offence because they decide they don't like the look of you) much more easily. Secondly - because it is indicative of a force who don't see their primary loyalty as being to the victims of crime (and to thus solving crime) but rather to looking after their own. If you were a victim of crime, would you want a force where the officers thought people who didn't pull their weight to solve it effectively should be protected from public scrutiny?

        If anything, we should be holding police officers, especially firearms officers, to a higher standard than we do the general public because we grant them additional powers and privileges and entrust them to use those responsibly while paying them out of the public purse.

    • It's rigged against you. Everything is. In Britain (at least England & Wales) a cop has never been found guilty of illegally killing someone during the course of their job. So, if you want a license to kill, just join an English police force. But in most other places (including the USA and Australia), cops also literally get away with murder.

      In almost every jurisdiction in the US, the police were bound in their arrest and use of force powers to what the legislature authorized. Anything outside of that w

    • So, if you want a license to kill, just join an English police force.

      That's some pretty strong hyperbole there, given the number of police caused deaths.

      That said, they *do* get away with murder, and the other police always get away with successfully perverting the course of justice, even when overwhelming evidence to the contrary appears, like a video taken by a tourist and posted from abroad.

    • by alexgieg (948359)

      In Britain (at least England & Wales) a cop has never been found guilty of illegally killing someone during the course of their job. So, if you want a license to kill, just join an English police force.

      And here I was, believing the concept of having "00" in front of your spy code were mere fiction...

      • >And here I was, believing the concept of having "00" in front of your spy code were mere fiction...

        Real world: it is and it isn't.
        There aren't any spies like old Bond - but on occasion the real spies (who are basically professional bribe-payers mostly attached to embassies) come across situations that merit immediate covert paramilitary action.
        The spies do not engage in this. They pass it up the chain. Officially the minister of defence makes the decision - in practise he probably wouldn't dare to do so

    • If a police officer is already on your property with a dog, you've allowed things to get too far. It's is extremely unlikely (Read: won't ever happen) that the first contact with the police will be with a dog unit. They are called as part of an on-going search or investigation, instigated by other constables.

      If you're busily chatting to PC Plod over a cup of tea in your living room and happen to have left your bong on the kitchen table, you can expect a dog to turn up pretty quick. The mistake you made was
      • You must not be in the US. You know how college kids pile in the car and drive around to look at girls? In the US, the police occasionally pile in the squad car with IR shit and drive around X-raying houses to see what's going on inside. High IR = marijuana grow operation = warrant = invade the home, arrest everyone, shoot the dog, sex with the 12 year old daughter on the kitchen table, get beer and donuts and celebrate. It doesn't surprise me that cops will just decide to go for a walk around the neigh
  • by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @05:27AM (#41828071) Homepage
    As much as I find it hard to motivate myself to defend the police, it isn't up to them to set the law or decide which laws they decide to enforce. Your government, and the general population, deserve the blame for anything wrong with that.

    As to whether getting a warrant based on a sniffer dog is right. It really is hard to say; personally I think there should be a standard of a reasonable expectation of privacy but that becomes very hard to define. If a police officer overheard a conversation about bomb making through an open window when passing should it not be investigated? How about a large quantity of peroxide bottles left next to a bin visible at the side of the house. If a dog trained to detect explosives goes batshit crazy outside of a house should it be ignored? Most people accept that things that can be seen or heard from public property aren't private; how about if they are only visible/audible if using advanced equipment and manipulation (to for example filter sound). Is a smell emanating from a property supposed to be ignored? I doubt the police officer who ignored a strong burning smell and left someone to die would be praised.
    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @06:35AM (#41828313) Journal

      it isn't up to them to set the law or decide which laws they decide to enforce.

      The hell it isnt. The police are moral actors and "just following orders" is not and has never been an acceptable excuse.

    • This is already addressed in the law today -there are two clearly stated exceptions where a police officer is allowed (and even expected) to enter private property WITHOUT a warrant.

      Your examples:
      >How about a large quantity of peroxide bottles left next to a bin visible at the side of the house.

      That's a perfect example of the first exemption in the law: probably cause. The officer have genuine solid reason to believe that this particular property is a crime scene and limited time to respond. It's still b

  • If the police are already in the house, searching, do they not need a warrant for that or were they invited in? If there is reasonable doubt why should the police not be perfectly within their rights to use a dog with a nose for drugs? after all, these dogs get it right the vast majority of the times. This was not some draconian misuse of power. the police were not abusing some guy because they thought he had a joint. A suspected drug dealer it says. Turns out he is a drug dealer that is now trying his be
    • by moeinvt (851793)

      The cops were not "already in the house", they did not have a warrant, nor were they invited it. They walked fido past the door, said that he detected drugs, and then kicked down the door claiming that they had "probable cause".

      If they had evidence to indicate that this person was a drug dealer, they should have gone to the courts and gotten a warrant.

      This was not a public place, it was the guy's home.

  • USA Land of Crime (Score:2, Interesting)

    by terminal.dk (102718)

    In the rest of the world, justice comes before anything else. No matter how evidence is obtained, it is still evidence, and will be used in court.
    In the US, if an unskilled policeman makes a small mistake, all evidence will be thrown down the sink, and the criminals who would be convicted on that evidence in every other country of the world, will walk free. I don't understand this protection of people where there is evidence that they are criminals.

    • by Phreakiture (547094) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @07:15AM (#41828509) Homepage

      It's pretty simple, really. Throwing out evidence that was illegally acquired is the only tool available to ensure that evidence is not illegally acquired. After a team of police officers, investigators and lawyers have been working on a case, putting their efforts into it, they do not want to have the case fall apart, so there is, theoretically, some peer pressure on them not to screw up the evidence.

      Without this incentive not to break the law, we would have police going house to house, knocking on doors, busting down the doors that don't open to them, and performing full-house searches, just looking for something, anything, to create criminal cases on. We had this in our pre-revolutionary state, and our Constitution was written to prevent it, amongst other abuses.

    • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @07:20AM (#41828527) Journal

      In the rest of the world, people generally live under oppressive regimes who don't think twice about breaking their own laws to obtain or manufacture evidence to convict people they perceive as enemies of the State.

      In the USA, the rights of the individual are protected unlike anywhere else in the world. Your attitude indicates you have never lived under a free system, because if you had, your own opinion would be repugnant to you.

      I would rather see 100 guilty men go free than see one innocent person convicted, and that is precisely the way our system is designed - to place the importance of preserving an innocent man's freedom above the importance of taking away a guilty man's freedom.

      • Re:USA Land of Crime (Score:5, Informative)

        by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @09:40AM (#41829537) Journal

        In the USA, the rights of the individual are protected unlike anywhere else in the world. Your attitude indicates you have never lived under a free system, because if you had, your own opinion would be repugnant to you.

        And yet, the US imprisons more people than any other country in the world. That holds if you measure per capita, or even count the total. The US as a land of freedom and opportunity is a complete and utter myth today, if it was ever true.

        I would rather see 100 guilty men go free than see one innocent person convicted, and that is precisely the way our system is designed - to place the importance of preserving an innocent man's freedom above the importance of taking away a guilty man's freedom.

        Except that well over 90% of people charged with federal crimes ever see a trial. Is it because they are just that accurate? No, it's because they punish people for exercising their right to a trial, by cutting them breaks if they forfeit that right.

        Face it, the US is an authoritarian hell hole with very little to recommend it above other authoritarian hell holes. The idea that the US is exceptional in any way when it somes to freedom, liberty, justice, the voice of the people, is all baseless jingoistic nonsense.

        • And yet, the US imprisons more people than any other country in the world. That holds if you measure per capita, or even count the total. The US as a land of freedom and opportunity is a complete and utter myth today, if it was ever true.

          Ordinarily, I'm all for a good roasting of our country. There's so very many things to choose from! But this isn't one of them. The per capita rate of imprisonment has little to do with the freedoms and opportunities present here, if anything. A high incarceration rate doesn't erase our public education system or other social programs. It doesn't counter our large economy, which despite its recent faltering still brings tens of thousands of people a year into the country (legally and illegally) to start a b

      • Re:USA Land of Crime (Score:4, Informative)

        by mianne (965568) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:45AM (#41830881)

        There have been a number of cases over the years where U.S. cops were caught planting narcotics and arresting innocent people--usually non-natives who speak little or no English. I think it's fairly safe to assume that not every such occurrence was discovered and aired on the media, so who knows whether this is a rare anomaly or if it's pervasive? Our culture tends to assume people in prison are guilty and we're unlikely to ever hear from or about "those monsters" again--well unless someone is exonerated after serving 20 years of a life sentence for a crime they didn't commit.

        Our present legal system does not favor the acquittal of 100 guilty over the conviction of one innocent. It's a lofty and noble idea, but it is pure fiction. Unless you are essentially indigent or are charged with a capital crime, you most likely are going to have to pay for your own legal counsel. So say you are charged with possession, with intent to distribute, narcotics. Whether you're guilty or not, once you've taken out a 2nd or 3rd mortgage to post bond; you'll have to retain an attorney who will be racking up the billable hours long before you ever get your day in court. There'll be the discovery process and pretrial hearings. If you still have a dime to your name after that, then will be the jury selection process which will add the cost of those jury consultants to your tab. Then you get to trial and you add the cost of all those expert witnesses on your behalf to your tab. Hopefully this results in your acquittal, in which case you hopefully still have a job after all that time off trying to clear your name. You still have that arrest record though, probably going to have a few more billable hours trying to get that expunged. Or were you convicted? Well you can appeal, but you no longer have the "presumption of innocence". and thus you can't simply have the case retried, rather you can argue that the evidence and/or testimony presented wasn't valid; so good luck with that one!

        Now that you see it may cost a few hundred thousand or more to try to clear your name without guarantee of success, your attorney will suggest accepting a plea bargain--simple possession perhaps? You can serve 4-6 months in minimum security prison, drug rehab program, 3 years probation, and then you can try to rebuild your life again trying to land a job, flat broke, but hopefully not too deeply in debt, with the drug conviction on your record. This is how over 2/3rd of indictments are settled! Innocent or guilty, doesn't matter. This is the legal system we have today, and the only real hope of keeping your livelihood intact with minimal damage is to have a huge bankroll to work with--something that's probably easier to do if you actually happen to be a drug kingpin.

        So the perverse reality is: one guilty person walks for every 100 innocent/guilty who go to jail.

    • That rule is pretty effective because it uses the motivations of the police (to get the bad guys) to keep thrn from violating the rights of citizens. There are a few bad cops, of course, but 99% are careful to not do an illegal search precisely because they want the evidence to be admissable. Cops and DAs don't talk about what's right and wrong, they are careful about what's admissable and what's not.
    • Re:USA Land of Crime (Score:4, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @09:30AM (#41829437) Homepage

      Actually a trial can easily collapse if evidence was not properly obtained in the UK as well. Most countries do not allow illegally obtained evidence to be used in trials because it would encourage people to illegally obtain evidence.

  • I have no use for recreational drugs

    Why do we feel compelled to pre-emptively deny allegations? Why do absolute shits feel compelled make false allegations? Why do we let us be fooled by false allegations? Even geeks -the ones seeking facts or accepting them anyway- are sometimes fooled by false allegations...

  • by epp_b (944299) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @08:19AM (#41828837)

    Dogs are so endlessly fascinated with each other, the drug sniffers would be too enthralled and distracted to find anything ;)

    Joking aside, the court should most definitely conclude that such unwarranted searches are unconstitutional. It may be an extremely small victory, but it's a start.

  • Based on an initial read, this sounds like a question of curtilage [wikipedia.org], although I didn't see that term in the article.

    Curtilage is the legal definition of what part of your property is private, and what is not. If the dog was not on a public street, then this is a curtilage case.

    My understanding of recent SCOTUS cases is that they view curtilage in a way that, shall we say, is more favorable to the way the rich typically live than the poor. If you have a fence around your property, with a gate, then the whole

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @09:09AM (#41829223)

    These dogs are trained to fined drugs, but they're also trained with commands that can make them give a false positive anytime the cop feels like screwing around with you. If the signal for "There are some drugs in here" is a bark and a slap of the paw, the dog can easily be trained to exhibit that behavior with a simple verbal command of the handler.
    Allowing this BS to stand is effectively the same as allowing arbitrary search.

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